How Big A Ceiling Fan Do I Need?

how big a ceiling fan do i need
Image by BUMIPUTRA from Pixabay

Thinking of getting a fan and wondering “how big a ceiling fan do I need?” We got you! Whether you’re getting a new fan or replacing an old one, whatever the case may be, this article explains the best types of fan sizes you can buy.

When shopping for a fan, it is generally believed that bigger is indeed better. This is because the main cooling effect from the ceiling fan is felt from directly underneath the fan. This cooling effect drops off at approximately 2 feet from the blades. 

If the ceiling fan is in the middle of the room with the seating arrangement to the side of the room, use the largest fan possible. On the other hand, if the seating arrangement is directly underneath the ceiling fan, use a fan that is large enough to cover the seating area. 

There are four common ceiling fan sizes you will come across when scouting for the best ceiling fan for your room. They include small, medium, large and great. 

Big Is The New Trend In Ceiling Fans

Just 10 years ago, you could only buy ceiling fans in the following size categories: 

  1. 42 inches
  2. 48 inches 
  3. 52 inches 

In today’s market however, there are now more fans with larger diameters. The most popular size in today’s market is the 60-inch ceiling fan. There are very big ceiling fans with blade spans more than 60 inches. In fact, even if you want a blade span as large as 96 inches, you can buy it in today’s modern ceiling fan market. 

These extra big fans are not only restricted for use in the largest living rooms, but they are also used in average-sized living rooms. This is because they spread the flow of air more evenly across the entirety of the room. 

On the other end of the market, there’s also a variety of choices when it comes to buying a ceiling fan for a small room. 

The ceiling fan sizes for small rooms such as walk-in closets, laundry rooms, kitchens, and hallways range from 24 inches to 36 inches. 

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Benefits Of Large Ceiling Fans With Huge Blade Spans

Larger fans have the ability to provide a better airflow across the span of the room. Depending on the style you get, they can also create a dramatic style statement to your space. 

Most big fans tend to have a relatively low profile and a small motor to blade span proportion so they are not as domineering as they look. Remember that even though larger fans usually have a higher Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) rating, the actual wind spin might be lower because they tend to spin much slower. 

As a result of this, expect to have a lesser direct wind cooling effect. The gentle breeze will, however, cover a much larger span of the room. 

How Big A Ceiling Fan Do I Need?

Various ceiling fan makers usually have varying information about which fan size is ideal for different room sizes. As a result of the different types of large-sized ceiling fans in the market, it is generally believed the bigger the fan is the better. 

This is primarily because the air a large fan produces covers a larger area of space in the room it’s installed and helps to keep the room more comfortable. 

When you want to buy a fan, the size of fan you will need to buy is usually determined by the room size it will be installed in. Be wary not to buy too big a ceiling fan if the size of the room can’t accommodate it. 

To install a ceiling fan properly, there’s a minimum distance from the nearest wall (or other possible obstructions) to the tips of your fan blades that must be. 

As a general rule, experts recommend that you leave a space of 2 feet (minimum) between the tip of your fan blades and the nearest wall to it. The larger the ceiling fan to be installed, of course, it goes without saying, the larger the space you’d have to provide between your fan and your wall. So sometimes, you might need more than 2 feet of space in the end, depending on the size of your fan. 

Generally speaking, this is the way ceiling fans tend to operate: ceiling fans work by pushing down air to the level of the living room. They do this by pulling air from above their blades.

From there, the air moves to the floor and then goes back up to where it came (above the fan blades) to recirculate. This happens after it the air must have circulated around the room and up the walls. Once the air reaches the top again, the entire process is repeated. 

Now, say the space isn’t enough between the fan blades and the nearest obstruction, rather than follow the pattern we described above, there would be a vacuum affect instead on top of the fan blades. So, there won’t be air for your fan to circulate. Consequently, the fan will not be able to create any breeze.
Now that you have this information, below we’ve given a general guideline of fan sizes based on room sizes: 

  • If room size is 12 feet x 15 feet, or 15 feet x 15 feet, it would need a 60-inch to 65-inch fan. 
  • If room size is 15 feet x 15 feet, or 20 feet x 20 feet, it would need a 65-inch to 80-inch ceiling fan. 
  • If room size is 20 feet x 20 feet, or 20 feet x 25 feet, it would need an 80-inch to 84-inch ceiling fan.
  • If room size is 20 feet x 25 feet and over, it would need an 84-inch to 99-inch ceiling fan.

We’ve also included a table below to guide you if you’re more familiar with square feet measurements. This table also gives you a breakdown of recommended fan blade sizes according to room type. 

Please note this table only serves as a guideline because there are other factors you need to determine to best ceiling fan size for your room and they include layout and room type.

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Size Guide For Ceiling Fans

Room Size (Square Feet) Room Type Blade Span Recommendation CFM Rating Recommendation
Under 144Small Bedrooms
Bathrooms, Porches, Breakfast nooks, 
Utility Rooms,
Under 42-inch fans1000 – 3000
144 to 225 Kitchens, Medium Bedrooms, Patios,
Dining Rooms
44 – 50-inch fans 1600-4500
225 to 400Family Rooms, 
Master Bedrooms, 
TV Rooms, 
Small Garages

Over 400 Large Garages,
Open Floor Plans, 
Great Rooms, 
Over 62-inch Fans5500-13,500

For Outdoor Ceiling Fans The Bigger The Better

Outdoor spaces ceiling fans tend to be installed include patios, outdoor kitchens or a pergola. 

A lot of nature lovers enjoy spending time outdoors so getting a ceiling fan installed is necessary to stay cool and fresh while spending time outside. 

When choosing a ceiling fan to be installed outdoors, the performance of the fan is important. This is because most times depending on where you live, the outdoors tends to get quite hot. It’s much better to have the right ceiling fan outdoors in order to ensure you stay nice and cool on those hot days. 

Outdoor ceiling fans improve your outdoor experience by not only driving away annoying mosquitoes and flies, they also ensure the air is circulated and cooled down adequately. 

When scouting for a ceiling fan to be used outdoors, it’s better to use the biggest fan possible to ensure the greatest cooling effect is achieved. This is not the time to try and save your pennies! 

If you used a normal-sized fan for example which ranges from 52 to 56 inches in blade size, it would produce an average of 6,000 CFM of air on a high-speed setting. 

If it was to be installed inside a house, great! However, for outdoor use, it will only give a wind chill effect of approximately 3 degrees. This performance is only ideal if the fan will only be used to circulate air-conditioned air.

Remember fans do not cool the way the same way air conditioners do. So, feeling only about 3 degrees cooler when it’s quite hot outside will not make much of a difference in keeping you cool. 

Also, remember that, generally speaking, with a lot of fans for you to feel the effect of the breeze, you will need to be sitting almost directly beneath the blades. 

This is one of the reasons big ceiling fans became extremely popular. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the larger blade span on a big ceiling fan will spread more air across a room than most standard sized ceiling fans. 

Plus bigger fans have a higher CFM fan rating which is more helpful than installing two normal-sized fans. These are the reasons buying a bigger ceiling sized model is more practical for outdoor spaces. 

For outdoor spaces, the needed fan size depends on the type and size of the outdoor living area your fan will be installed. If your space is approximately 144 square feet, it may only need a small ceiling fan. 

A large gazebo which usually ranges between 225 to 400 square feet in size might need a large ceiling fan with a higher CFM rating to do an effective job of cooling.

If you want to learn how to measure a ceiling fan’s blades, click here to read How Do You Measure A Ceiling Fan?

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A Word About Blade Material Before We Go

If you’re into really huge fans, then you must put a lot of thought into the kind of material the blades of your preferred fan come in. 

Fan blade materials include cheap pressboard plastic, wood, aluminum or plastic. It’s rare to find large fans that come with wooden blades. However, if a traditional look is what you’re aiming for for your space, then wooden blades are a great way to go. 

Wooden Blades

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Wooden fan blades are usually made up of layers of plywood with the finish layer composed of quality veneers. 

Wood grains are usually laid in a crisscross pattern and normally consist of a total of 7 layers. Using individual wood plies as well as crisscrossing the grains assists in stopping the blades from drooping and also prevents warping. 

The more expensive and higher-end wooden fan blades in today’s market are normally made up of solid wood, not plywood veneers. They have a richer look and they mimic tasteful furniture or hand-polished flooring made of hardwood. 

They come in shapes ranging from carved leaf shapes to traditional straight designs with beveled edges (which have a better look). These are ideal for properties located on the beach to give them a tropical touch of elegance and style. 

High-quality wooden blades usually have a groove on their backs and have wood cross pieces interleaved into the routed area. Doing this is usually to stop warpage. It’s just like when you crisscross layers of plywood on wooden blades.

Whatever wooden blade choice you make, you shouldn’t have any issues once you’ve installed a new fan for years to come.

Pressboard Blades

Trust us when we say, you don’t want to get this as a fan blade material. This is because with cheaper ceiling fans, large models included, the material has a tendency to bow downwards and warp quite easily. 

It can also absorb moisture if the ceiling fan will be used outdoors and it will swell up and look like a wet sponge. It’s advisable to stay away from using this as a ceiling fan blade material. 

High-End Plastic 

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When shopping for a big ceiling fan, you will come across a wide variety of fans with plastic blades. Plastic is great because it’s durable but we will advise you look for the nicer models that come with ABS plastic blades. ABS stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. 

ABS withstands heat much better than normal plastics. It would need to be as hot as 212 degrees Fahrenheit for starters to cause any change of characteristics or shape to an ABS fan blade. As long as you stick to a new fan with ABS blades rather than standard plastic, you should be fine.

Extruded Aluminum 

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At the highest end of the scale of huge ceiling fans, the blades are made with extruded aluminum. Aluminum blades will never warp even if you decide to install them inside a great big oven! Also, because of their resistance to rust and corrosion, they make fantastic blade choices for outdoor fans.

Compared to ABS blades, aluminum blades are pretty lightweight which is why you can find some of them come in a downward curve. A downward curve increases air resistance and this, in turn, increases air supply. 

As a result of aluminum being lighter in weight than other materials used in ceiling fan blades, it means there is less stress on the motor needed to spin them.

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